Today, the hearts of the people of the Caribbean are heavy. Once again one of our Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member states has been devastated by a dangerous hurricane as our region continues to experience the effects of climate change.
Initial reports from The Bahamas indicate that the country has taken a severe battering from Hurricane Dorian with five deaths reported thus far in what Prime Minister Hubert Minnis has described as “a historic tragedy”.
As chairman of CARICOM, I am saddened by the early reports coming out of The Bahamas which are reminiscent of the severe devastation experienced by a number of CARICOM states just two years ago when Hurricanes Irma and Maria hit us. On behalf of the community, I extend deepest condolences to all who have lost loved ones to this devastating storm.
The Caribbean Community expresses its full solidarity with the government and people of The Bahamas at this time and stands ready to give whatever assistance is required to deal with the effects of this tragedy.
At the last CARICOM summit held in Saint Lucia in July 2019 under my chairmanship, Heads of Government considered options for financing member states’ actions to build resilience to the effects of climate change, including the establishment of a Resilience Foundation.
It is my fervent hope that this matter will be given new impetus in the coming months.
Immediately, the emphasis must be on assisting our brothers and sisters in The Bahamas in getting back on their feet in the quickest possible time.
In advance of Hurricane Dorian, the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) took the lead to coordinate the Regional Response Mechanism and deployed two Rapid Needs Assessment teams to The Bahamas. These teams will assist the government to assess the situation and facilitate the provision of immediate relief in the aftermath of the hurricane.
As soon as we have a needs list prepared, we will share this information with the public and the wider Caribbean family. I urge all our citizens – here in the region and throughout the diaspora – to lend support to the recovery effort. I also appeal to the international community, governments and institutions, to come forward and partner with us in helping The Bahamas through the difficult days and months ahead.
I call on all the people of the Caribbean to continue to keep The Bahamas and all countries affected by or currently in the path of Hurricane Dorian in our thoughts and prayers. (PR)